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Online Privacy Issue Is Also in Play in Petraeus Scandal, Count every vote on Prop 37!

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  • Ed Pearl
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/us/david-petraeus-case-raises-concerns-abo ut-americans-privacy.html?nl=todaysheadlines
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 15 7:06 AM
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      Online Privacy Issue Is Also in Play in Petraeus Scandal

      dex.html> Scott Shane

      NY Times: November 14, 2012

      The F.B.I.
      _bureau_of_investigation/index.html?inline=nyt-org> investigation that
      toppled the director of the C.I.A.
      _intelligence_agency/index.html?inline=nyt-org> and has
      ked-to-petraeus-scandal.html?hp> now entangled the top American commander in
      Afghanistan underscores a danger that civil libertarians have long warned
      about: that in policing the Web for crime, espionage and sabotage,
      government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of

      On the Internet, and especially in e-mails, text messages, social network
      postings and online photos, the work lives and personal lives of Americans
      are inextricably mixed. Private, personal messages are stored for years on
      computer servers, available to be discovered by investigators who may be
      looking into completely unrelated matters.

      In the current F.B.I. case, a Tampa, Fla., woman, Jill Kelley, a friend both
      of David
      us/index.html?inline=nyt-per> H. Petraeus, the former C.I.A. director, and
      Gen. John R. Allen, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, was disturbed by
      a half-dozen anonymous e-mails she had received in June. She took them to an
      F.B.I. agent whose acquaintance with Ms. Kelley (he had sent her shirtless
      photos of himself - electronically, of course) eventually prompted his
      bosses to order him to stay away from the investigation.

      But a squad of investigators at the bureau's Tampa office, in consultation
      with prosecutors, opened a cyberstalking inquiry. Although that
      investigation is still open, law enforcement officials have said that
      criminal charges appear unlikely.

      In the meantime, however, there has been a cascade of unintended
      consequences. What began as a private, and far from momentous, conflict
      between two women, Ms. Kelley and Paula Broadwell, Mr. Petraeus's biographer
      and the reported author of the harassing e-mails, has had incalculable
      public costs.

      The C.I.A. is suddenly without a permanent director at a time of urgent
      intelligence challenges in Syria, Iran, Libya and beyond. The leader of the
      American-led effort to prevent a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan is
      distracted, at the least, by an inquiry into his e-mail exchanges with Ms.
      Kelley by the Defense Department's inspector general.

      For privacy advocates, the case sets off alarms.

      "There should be an investigation not of the personal behavior of General
      Petraeus and General Allen, but of what surveillance powers the F.B.I. used
      to look into their private lives," Anthony D. Romero, executive director of
      the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an interview. "This is a
      textbook example of the blurring of lines between the private and the

      Law enforcement officials have said they used only ordinary methods in the
      case, which might have included grand jury subpoenas and search warrants. As
      the complainant, Ms. Kelley presumably granted F.B.I. specialists access to
      her computer, which they would have needed in their hunt for clues to the
      identity of the sender of the anonymous e-mails. While they were looking,
      they discovered General Allen's e-mails, which F.B.I. superiors found
      "potentially inappropriate" and decided should be shared with the Defense

      In a parallel process, the investigators gained access, probably using a
      search warrant, to Ms. Broadwell's Gmail account. There they found messages
      that turned out to be from Mr. Petraeus.

      Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information
      Center in Washington, said the chain of unexpected disclosures was not
      unusual in computer-centric cases.

      "It's a particular problem with cyberinvestigations - they rapidly become
      open-ended because there's such a huge quantity of information available and
      it's so easily searchable," he said, adding, "If the C.I.A. director can get
      caught, it's pretty much open season on everyone else."

      For years now, as national security officials and experts have warned of a
      Pearl Harbor cyberattack that could fray the electrical grid or collapse
      stock markets, policy makers have jostled over which agencies should be
      assigned the delicate task of monitoring the Internet for dangerous

      Advocates of civil liberties have been especially wary of the National
      Security Agency, whose expertise is unrivaled but whose immense surveillance
      capabilities they see as frightening. They have successfully urged that the
      Department of Homeland Security take the leading role in cybersecurity.

      That is in part because the D.H.S., if far from entirely open to public
      scrutiny, is much less secretive than the N.S.A., the eavesdropping and
      code-breaking agency. To this day, N.S.A. officials have revealed almost
      nothing about the warrantless wiretapping it conducted inside the United
      States in the hunt for terrorists in the years after 2001, even after the
      secret program was
      disclosed by The New York Times in 2005 and set off a political firestorm.

      The hazards of the Web as record keeper, of course, are a familiar topic.
      New college graduates find that their Facebook postings give would-be
      employers pause. Husbands discover wives' infidelity by spotting
      incriminating e-mails on a shared computer. Teachers lose their jobs over
      impulsive Twitter comments.

      But the events of the last few days have shown how law enforcement
      investigators who plunge into the private territories of cyberspace looking
      for one thing can find something else altogether, with astonishingly
      destructive results.

      Some people may applaud those results, at least in part. By having a secret
      extramarital affair, for instance, Mr. Petraeus was arguably making himself
      vulnerable to blackmail, which would be a serious concern for a top
      intelligence officer. What if Russian or Chinese intelligence, rather than
      the F.B.I., had discovered the e-mails between the C.I.A. director and Ms.

      Likewise, military law prohibits adultery - which General Allen's associates
      say he denies committing - and some kinds of relationships. So should an
      officer's privacy really be total?

      But some commentators have renewed an argument that a puritanical American
      culture overreacts to sexual transgressions that have little relevance to
      job performance. "Most Americans were dismayed that General Petraeus
      resigned," said Mr. Romero of the A.C.L.U.

      That old debate now takes place in a new age of electronic information. The
      public shaming that labeled the adulterer in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Scarlet
      Letter" might now be accomplished by an F.B.I. search warrant or an N.S.A.
      satellite dish.

      * * *

      Below is an email from Linda Masterson, a MoveOn member in Felton,
      California, who created a petition on SignOn.org, the nonprofit site that
      allows anyone to start their own online petition. If you have concerns or
      feedback about this petition, click


      Dear California MoveOn member, According to investigative journalist Jon
      Rappoport, more than one million votes on Prop 37 (the GMO labeling
      initiative) in California have gone uncounted to date. Since the margin of
      "victory" is about 600,000 votes, this means Prop 37 may conceivably have

      Rappoport called the voter registrar offices in the largest California
      counties and nearly 1.7 million votes remain uncounted in Santa Clara, Los
      Angeles, San Diego, and Orange Counties alone. It is still unknown how many
      votes are uncounted in other California counties.

      Click <http://www.moveon.org/r?r=284378&id=57739-7187494-WoO7Dax&t=2> here
      to sign the petition: Count every vote on Prop 37.

      I created a petition on SignOn.org to California Secretary of State Debra
      Bowen, which says:

      We petition Debra Bowen, secretary of state of California, to require that
      ALL votes cast in the November 6 election be counted immediately. We
      specifically demand that ALL ballots in the following counties be counted
      and recorded: Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and Santa Clara. We demand
      that the results of this complete ballot counting be made public

      Click <http://www.moveon.org/r?r=284378&id=57739-7187494-WoO7Dax&t=3> here
      to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.


      -Linda Masterson

      This petition was created on SignOn.org, the progressive, nonprofit petition
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